Browsing Category New Albums

The Mantles

Ah man I’m such a sucker for the humid jangle of The Mantles. Coming pretty quick on the heels of both The Mantles’ previous record and a solo LP for Glenn Donaldson’s Fruits and Flowers label, one would think that Michael Olivares would be tapped out at this point. But, to the contrary, All Odds End seems to be just as stacked and stocked with catchy strums and unquenchable energy as ever. Maybe the introduction of new members Carly Putnam on Keys and Matt Bullimore on bass reinvigorated the driving forces. Its a more rhythmic record than perhaps they’ve produced in years past, but even more than that, its the clearest vision of The Mantles that’s ever come out of the studio. Could be the watchful eye of Jason Quever that’s helping here. The Papercuts leader was responsible for back catalog gem “Don’t Lie” and subsequently took over recording duties on this album. It seems that he and Olivares squeeze the best out of each other, the melodies and shades on All Odds End sparkle brighter than ever, wistful sighs given a lush field of color. If ever there was a perfect album to usher in the advent of sweater weather it might be this one. A pair of headphones and a brisk walk might be just the thing you need.

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Shannon and the Clams

Shannon Shaw’s voice is a lot of things; a lullaby, a force of nature, a time machine to the 60’s, a rallying cry for the heartbroken. On their latest album, Shaw is all those things and probably quite a bit more. The album is as crisp and clear as the band have ever sounded, finally kicking some of the hiss that plagued their recorded output and in the process its the most clearly indebted they’ve ever been to the girl group 60’s crooners that have undoubtedly served as some inspiration. The songs swing and pine with odes to love and loss but the real departure is that they’ve also pretty much shed their garage rock tag here. On Gone By Dawn Shannon and The Clams are a pop band through and through, albeit one that’s rocketed out of time and lodged themselves in the malt shop of your heart. And hell why not, Archie’s been reinvented for a modern era, perhaps there’s a kismet in this as soundtrack to the great American heartbreak. Perhaps its time to swoon again. If it is indeed time to wear a broken heart on leather sleeves, The Clams are there to help you cry and pick it all back up for another day.

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Wand

Wand are turning out to be rather prolific, eh? Third album on the way, second of the year and its proving to be just as packed with heady fuzz, psych weirdness and that sulfur burn sound that’s made them one of our favorites over the past couple of years. This time they don’t just barrel headlong into gravy thick riffs though, there’s a nod to the heaviness and hooks and then the band tumbles into caverns of echo that sound like they’ve been spending some time with A.R. and Machine’s 1972 opus Echo. After they climb out of the chasm they take a left turn towards Barrett-laced psych-folk that fits them quite well.

But while the detours are nice and make for a well rounded album, its a welcome return to testing the tensile limits of your speaker covers as they go for some jugular crushing, exorcism rousing riffs on the back half, bringing plenty of evil vibes floating over the veil. They bring it all down with one of the sweetest sounding cuts they’ve written to date, a perfect mix of sweet pastoral strums and soaring grandiosity that show Tame Impala and Temples how its done. Bu while those bands borrow from the book of niceties in psych, Wand find a few more ways to blend the weirdness of prog with the heavy boots of metal (just like Sabbath told ya) and come out a bit more fun and a whole lot louder. Perhaps you’re asking if your vinyl shelf needs another Wand record this year. The answer is, of course, that it definitely does.

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Gnoomes

UK label Rocket Recordings is mostly known for their heavier exploits, gargling on guitar fumes and the occasional tonal drift of Gnod. So the opening strums of Gnoomes album Ngan! come as a bit of a shock, though mind you only in context. The album eases into the monster that is “Roadhouse,” the fifteen minute opener that begins with a sweet lope, a nod to Neu and some shrouded vocals before bridging in some of that guitar fire that we’ve all been expecting since the Rocket logo stamped the back. But that’s about as rowdy as this one gets. The Russian band is from the far off city of Perm, literally translated to “Faraway Land” due to its proximity to Moscow and its history of being used for exile; and the band use their isolation well, tuning into a sense of amplified wonder that comes across in the band’s longform workouts. They tighten up ever so slightly for middle tracks “Myriads” and “Moognes” both workable bits of psych pop that swoon more than growl, and then it’s back to another stretch on closer “My Son.” The band are definitely most comfortable pushing the boundaries of their gauzy pop to the edges and its apparent that this record was built for the live setting. It’ll probably be pretty comfy on the turntable too. Not a bad intro to this band.

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The Host

Named after and inspired by new wave retreats, Esalen Lectures is a pseudonym of Barry Lynn, who is more often found carving bass sculptures under the name Boxcutter. But the waves of IDM drift away in a sea of sensory deprivation here, instead invoking the float and flutter of artists like JD Emanuel, A.R. Reichel and Ash Ra Temple. The tracks fold into one another, rippling and easing their way into a burned cortex until they begin to take hold and then totally release. If Lynn is aiming for a system reset, a cleanse of the mind, then he’s fairly on point with his delivery. The album doesn’t drone like so many analog purveyors but it makes use of synths to curl a bit of psychic smoke through the ripples of your grey matter until the subconscious takes the wheel.

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Tijuana Panthers

Following up Wayne Interest is no easy feat. The band crystallized their sound, shaved off some of the rough edges of the past few years and really found their stride in the foaming garage eddies and pounding pace of rock’s dark corridors. They never let themselves ascribe to a style wholesale and they continue that ethos on Poster. There’s a slacked summer hangover of slowed surf, that twang of garage that they always keep in a back pocket and a bit of pop bounce that holds it all together. When they’re at their best, the band is spitting headstrong anthems that stride into the room with enough confidence to turn every head. “Set Forth,” “Send Down The Bombs” and “Front Window Down” are some of the band’s most endearing tracks and highlights among the bounce, sneer and shimmy here. But the whole record is a nice compliment to Wayne Interest, making a pair of releases that swirl the radio dial through ’66 – ’80 with just the right sense of timing.

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Future Punx

Future Punx are riding the high of 70’s post-punk in a way that few are with such pure immersion these days. Plenty have found ways to incorporate the trappings of the genre into their work but the Punx divine the nervy, jerky dance and smash of influences with the same palpable excitement of their forebears; sounding ripped out of time. They’ve admitted to a love affair with Fear of Music and David Byrne’s fingerprints are fresh in the heart of This is Post-Wave, but they also capture the raw funk hangover and stark minimalism of other luminaries of the era, namely ESG and Medium Medium. The mood is celebratory, but in a way that seems less purely joyful and more in the mood of dancing to spite the forces that told them they couldn’t. Its a dark, cathartic grind that’s more for your chagrin than for their levity. And this is certainly a good time to dance it off in someone’s face. Its a perfect time and place for the raw nerve of post-punk to rear its head amid the social rot to our collective teeth.

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Chris Forsyth & Koen Holtkamp

The second matchup between these two purveyors of experimental headspace proves that there’s some definite aural chemistry between the pair. This time the two brought their collaborations together quicker, recording over a weekend at the shore rather than a full year of tinkering. The result doesn’t sound rushed, rather it crackles with the kind of excitement that’s born out of two minds bouncing off of one another. The first track rushes headlong into electronics, but its squelchy tones prove the exception on the album as the rest settles into the sand of strums and slides of guitar with just the setting sun of hum weaving throughout. Truthfully this does sound like a thoughtfully composed record, especially songs like standout “Long Beach Idyll” and the meditative crunch of “Alternator.” Then they tie it all together with a ten-minute workout of rippling, hypnotic strum that melts like last days of summer.

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Bill Horist

Guitarist Bill Horist, long a member of psych collective Master Musicians of Bukake, crafts here a score for Calgary choreographer Davida Monk’s piece Dream Pavilion. The score and accompanying dance piece set out to bring life to Netsuke, tiny Japanese sculptures that often depict gods, animals and people in moments of extreme emotion. As such the pieces vary by the type of character they convey, from slightly playful to, more often, dark and foreboding. Horist’s use of prepared guitar and a Vietnamese lute called đàn nguyệt were the mainstays of the live performances but here he’s further augmented them in studio with the addition of bass, percussion and electronics that further serve to bring out the usually frozen emotions that are caught in the Netsuke’s expressions. The record acts as a journey down the snake’s den, rather than the rabbit hole, winding and weaving through the dark corridors with deft precision and a predatory tension. Its jarring at times but on the whole an engrossing listen that captures the imagination even without the dance.

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Cold Showers

Cold Showers have been knocking singles through the cracked lens of 80’s post-punk for a few years now. They popped up, as so many do, for a short stint on Mexican Summer and they put a single out on Art Fag before moving onto a string of releases with Dais. Now they’ve taken their sun-shrouded sound and worked it into a sophomore album that acts as a love letter to the twin kingdoms of Factory and Creation; bending bare, but crisp beats to the whims of fuzz ballooned shoegaze guitars. They’ve got enough pop sensibility to keep it from going into the goth end of the pool, though I’d imagine that their Cure Fanclub dues are paid in full, and while they’re by no means are they creating summer anthems, there’s a sparkle of catchiness under the surface. The songs on Matter of Choice are clipped and ready for greyer skies and streaks of rain, so perhaps the timing is just perfect to steel yourself away with a copy of Matter of Choice after the swelter dies down and the darkness eats away at the tail end of summer.

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